Within the next two weeks, Texas could become the first state in the U.S. to enforce a law prohibiting abortions on unborn babies once their heartbeat is detectable.
The heartbeat law (Senate Bill 8) has the potential to save tens of thousands of babies from abortion every year. It is slated to go into effect Sept. 1, but enforcement will depend on whether a judge grants the abortion industry’s request to block the law.
Andy Hogue with the Travis County GOP told FOX 7 Austin that it is not fair to describe the law as “extreme.” Indeed, several recently polls have shown public support for heartbeat laws, including among Texans.
Hogue predicted that the new law will be effective in saving lives.
“So far, several states have tried to pass a heartbeat bill … but it’s been blocked in court because it involved the government enforcing it,” Hogue said. “Now, Texas found a novel way around that, which is to allow we, the people, a legal remedy to sue in court to stop abortion and enforce the state law.”
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He said the law protects unborn babies with a “discernible heartbeat, which means this is a bona fide living human being and not just a blob of tissue, somebody deserving legal protection.”
The heartbeat law could save tens of thousands of unborn babies’ lives if it is allowed to go into effect. In 2019, more than 56,600 unborn babies were aborted in Texas, according to state health statistics. The Center for Reproductive Rights estimates about 85 percent of abortions in Texas happen after six weeks, about when an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected outside the womb.
Abortions kill unborn babies, but abortion activists describe it as “essential health care.”
“Republicans and the GOP are just trying to make essential health care inaccessible to Texans,” Diana Gomez, the advocacy manager for Progress Texas, told FOX 7.
She argued that the law creates “cruel provisions” that restrict “health care” and “upend our legal system” by allowing any private citizen to sue an abortionist or anyone who helps a woman get an abortion.
But Hogue said many Texans hope the law will challenge Roe v. Wade and allow states to protect unborn babies from abortion again. He said many are tired of the “federal nonsense that has put us into a corner and made a majority of Texans unable to regulate their own affairs.”
Because of Roe and later Supreme Court rulings on abortion, states are prohibited from restricting abortions on unborn babies before viability.
The Planned Parenthood and Whole Woman’s Health abortion chains are suing to block the heartbeat law, and a hearing is scheduled for Aug. 30.
They argue that the potential lawsuits would bankrupt the abortion industry by creating a “threat of ruinous monetary penalties and injunctions ordering them to stop providing constitutionally protected health care and to stop supporting abortion patients.” They also claim the law would cause immediate “irreparable harm” to women by depriving them of their constitutional rights.
They want U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman to block enforcement of the law and “prevent any of the state’s trial court judges, potentially more than 1,000 throughout Texas, from enforcing the law and to block court clerks from accepting the lawsuits,” according to Newsmax.
The private enforcement provision in the heartbeat law is similar to language in the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinances that are passing at the city level, and pro-life leaders believe the law is more likely to withstand a legal challenge and save babies’ lives.
A Texas judge recently threw out Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against a similar provision at the local level, the Lubbock Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance.
An April poll by the University of Texas-Austin found that Texans support a six-week abortion ban. According to the poll, 49 percent support making abortions illegal after six weeks of pregnancy, while 41 percent oppose it.
In 2019, a national Hill-HarrisX survey also found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive. Gallup polls consistently find that a majority of Americans think all or most abortions should be illegal.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks. The court is scheduled to hear a Mississippi case in the fall that challenges this precedent.